Former patients of Johns Hopkins gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy are experiencing unimaginable trauma. The invasion of privacy could be much worse than first reported.
As Managing Partner of the law firm Schochor, Federico and Staton, I oversee the team handling over 1,500 victims of Dr. Levy’s egregious violations. As a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney, I have worked with many victims of medical malpractice in Baltimore and around the U.S., and have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars* in compensation for my clients. I want to explain the stages of a victim’s reaction and what loved ones can do.
There are essentially four stages of reaction to what Dr. Levy did as a Johns Hopkins physician. For purpose of this discussion, we are calling all of Levy’s wrongful conduct including sexual boundary violations as the “assault:”
1. Crisis Stage. In the hours and days immediately following the announcements about what Dr. Levy did, shock and denial were common reactions. It’s hard to believe the violation really happened and difficult to understand why. The victim may feel strong emotions and appear visibly disturbed, crying, shaking or even fainting. Or the victim may be in shock, feel no emotion at all, and seem calm and composed or even cold and detached. All these reactions are normal.
During the crisis stage, the most common emotion is fear–fear of being alone, of places like the one where the assault occurred or of people who remind the victim of Dr. Levy. Victims often feel angry, depressed, confused and irritable. Many also feel guilty, ashamed and “dirty” because they believe the myths that blame victims for what occurred. Why didn’t I see the camera, how didn’t I know are all common thoughts.
There are many physical reactions after an assault like this, including pain, headaches, eating and sleeping disturbances. Some assault victims may want to talk about their experience soon afterwards; others may wait until much later or may never feel comfortable talking about it. Some victims do not want to be touched and others want increased physical affection.
2. Denial Stage. During this stage, the victim may deny any effects from the assault and may assure you that things are fine. This may be because the victim thinks everyone is tired of hearing about Dr. Levy and Johns Hopkins Hospital or because the victim is trying to shut out the pain and get back to “normal.” In an effort to put the assault behind her, the victim may also want to change lifestyles, jobs or residences. This stage can be brief or can last for many years. Sometimes while in the denial stage, victims may turn to harmful things (alcohol, drugs, overeating or overworking) to enable them to numb their feelings and go on.
3. Suffering Stage. This stage is when the reality of the assault sinks in. It is characterized by depression and feelings of loss. The victim’s sense of security and control over her life has been devastated. Common reactions include fear, nightmares, changes in sleeping and eating, sexual problems, physical aches and pains, difficulty concentrating and loss of interest in usual activities. Anger, guilt, and shame are common. This stage is very painful for victims. Mood swings are common and it is not unusual for victims to misdirect anger towards loved ones or themselves at this time.
4. Resolution Stage. This stage begins when the victim starts the long-term process of resolving her feelings about the assault, the attacker and herself. The goal of this stage is to integrate the assault as an accepted, although painful, event in one’s life. If integration is not achieved, the victim may continue to have problems in many life areas.
Although all assault victims pass through the four stages of healing, the passage is not always smooth or straightforward. A victim may be in two stages at the same time, may return to a previous stage for a time, or get stuck in one stage.
If you or someone you know may have been a victim of Dr. Nikita Levy’s, consider getting in touch with the medical malpractice lawyers at Schochor, Federico and Staton to see how we can help.
*Each case is different, and past experience is no assurance that any future case will result in success.